If you're anything like me - a rather tragically plump, socially inept 35-year-old Charlie Brown lookalike omega-male loser - you may have found the idea of E4's Tool Academy quite interesting: here are some cocksure laddish geezers who deserve being taken down a peg or two by their fed-up girlfriends, who've enrolled them in the TV show to save their relationship. But it hasn't quite worked out that way, and I'm left wondering who the tools at the tool academy are meant to be.
Are they the lads, some of whom seem rather unpleasant and others of whom seem quite normal, even likeable? Are they the girlfriends, some of whom seem to have more issues than their supposedly 'tool' other halves? Is it the lantern-jawed host who yuks in the first episode something along the lines of "If they split up I wouldn't mind going out with her?" - or are we the tools for watching it all?
The Tools are given names, like Football Tool, for a bloke who, er, is a semi-professional footballer. I suppose it would have been Spreadsheet Tool if he'd been an accountant. Then there's Twinkle Tool, who is apparently a bit FEMININE and therefore GAY; he doesn't DRINK enough and so is a TWINKLE. If you're not running around in a lager-fuelled frenzy quoting Guy Ritchie dialogue, you're FEMALE, which is WRONG. He gets swiftly booted out for admitting not being confident - how dare he not be confident! His Tool Academy report card gives him an F in ABILITY TO MAN UP. Ah yes, that wonderful phrase. Man up. As if being a man is being some kind of aggressive, shouty, pushy dick.
Those ones you feel a bit of sympathy for - and are immediately kicked out, for not being TV-friendly enough, since this is an elimination show, and elimination shows are about getting rid of the 'boring ones' and keeping in the 'fun ones'. And so there's Randy Tool. In the first episode we see him out on the lash, ending up in a nightclub cubicle with a woman and then chirping to his pals that he was fingering her. You might think that's not a tremendously good thing, but no, he's kept in - he wins his 'commitment' and 'trust' academy badges despite this rather unsavoury event.
Then there's Temper Tool, who may well be a mass of front and bravado, but acts like the kind of nut who'd happily smash your skull in because you looked at him funny in a kebab shop or a taxi queue. In one rather bizarre moment he tells an actor, who is pretending to be a doctor conducting a lie detector test, that he should be grateful he doesn't turn the desk over onto him. Nice guy. But despite these tantrums, he's not kicked out either and leaves of his own accord. Being aggressive, threatening violence or cheating on your girlfriend is OK in Tool Academy; not drinking enough, or not being confident, makes you a Twinkle, on the other hand, and you should MAN UP.
I know, I know. They keep the arseholes in to keep you watching for their comeuppance - for Randy Tool it's been flagged up since day one and is promised in next week's episode. But I don't think I can really be bothered to make it that far and I don't think it's particularly nice that the programme-makers, having known of this guy's infidelity, kept chugging along with the pretence with his partner so they could get a good 'reveal' out of it. I don't find the programme entertaining enough to keep me going through its frustrating and silly attitudes - though to be fair there was a fun bit involving the girlfriends dressed as grannies on mobility scooters - and I just end up feeling sorry for everyone involved. The tools, for being called tools when they don't always seem that tool-y; the girlfriends for flogging their relationship on national TV for a chance of a crappy holiday somewhere; and me, for trying to sit through the damned thing.
We've all got faults. A list of mine would go down the stairs, out the door, up the road, left at the traffic lights, all the way to Jupiter, and back again. Luckily though I'm not in some contrived TV show to win a bloody holiday in which my partner and I are made to go through a series of pointless exercises to prove I'm not a tool, by some weird criteria in which cheating and being aggressive is OK, but not being confident isn't. If that's the way it is, I'm a tool. I'm a tool for watching this programme; I know that much.
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